In January 2016, Andrej Kramaric took a leap of faith. He moved from England to Germany and, while at first glance, the move may not seem particularly eye-opening but it was the clubs in question which made people turn their heads. He was moving to Hoffenheim. At the time, an unknown club outside of Germany who were bottom of the Bundesliga table with a 28 year coach head coach. Moreover, he moved on from the club who were to become the team of the moment. Five months later, Leicester City became Premier League champions. At the time, Kramaric said: “I’m happy to be here and in the Bundesliga. I want to play a key part in keeping the club in the Bundesliga.”
His courage was rewarded. Julian Nagelsmann steered the club to safety against all odds with Kramaric leading the line. Then, the club pushed on to reach the Champions League play-off spots and playing Europa League football. Another year on and TSG find themselves in third place and ensuring a place in the group stages of next season’s Champions League. It was a team success but one which Kramaric has played a big part of. His 33 Bundesliga goals rank him fourth in TSG’s all-time Bundesliga goalscoring charts, adding 19 assists on the way. His achievements at TSG gave him a springboard to feature for his national team and make his way to this summer’s World Cup with Croatia. “I had this feeling at the time that this was the right move for me and I was right. Of course, I’m delighted it’s panned out this way,” he reflected. He’s also fallen in love with the region - particularly the town of Heidelberg where he lives – and the club as a whole: “TSG have become one of my favourite clubs. I feel very happy here. I like Hoffenheim a lot. I’ve had a great two and a half years here. I can only say positive things about the club, the team and the head coach. Everything is perfect for me here.”
Power comes from tranquility
The club doesn’t only appeal for sporting reasons. Kramaric, whose German skills havs come on leaps and bounds, appreciates the peace and quiet of Kraichgau and, consequently, can lead a “normal life”. “A so-called ‘VIP lifestyle’ isn’t for me. That’s too extravagant for my liking and zaps all the energy out of you. When I wake up in the morning, I just wear whatever I feel comfortable in and I’m not bothered about looking fashionable or anything like that. I just want to be me and live a normal life. I don’t want to pretend to be anyone else.”
Nevertheless, Kramaric enjoys the advantages that life as a professional footballer can bring and can fulfil his dream of owning an extravagant sports car but, on the whole, keeps himself grounded, mainly due to his upbringing. His parents live in Zagreb where he aims to move back to after his career is over but the rest of his family live in villages on the outskirts of the capital. “My family never had much money. I’d feel awful if people saw me as a show-off. I enjoy sharing the earnings I get from my lifestyle. That’s much more enjoyable for me. You have to act up because you’ve become a footballer. I’m Andrej just like before, everyone knows that.” Kramaric enjoys his time with friends and family so much that he uses his breaks to go home often – not by private jet of course: “Everyday, four flights go from Frankfurt to Zagreb. Just because you have enough money to do it doesn’t mean you should. Things like that don’t make sense to me.”
Flying high for Croatia
Despite his down-to-earth nature, he’s recognised in Croatia as much as in Germany. His performances at TSG have made him a key ingredient in the national team set-up. He’s heading to the World Cup in top form, despite going a baffling 18 games without scoring earlier in the season. That ‘crisis’ is long over and Kramaric is grateful to the TSG fans for sticking by him. “When you don’t score as a striker, you get in a foul mood unless the team win. That’s how it goes as striker. It’s all about goals. When you miss chances, it’s frustrating, mainly for yourself, as you want to help the team by scoring goals.”
He’ll be giving his all at the World Cup with the Croatia national team who face Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria in the group stages. Next season, TSG fans will be looking forward to seeing Kramaric jump for joy once more as his initial adventure becomes a Champions League odyssey next season.
Jetzt 11 Ausgaben kostenlos* abonnieren!
(*jahrliche Bezugskosten nur 18,99 €)